Kathleen Colunga

Born in San Antonio, Texas, USA, 68 years of age, married forty-nine years and mother of four daughters. Attended the San Antonio College taking Business Management. In 2018, she and her husband sold and retired from their forty-three-year family-owned automotive service business. Where she worked, in her responsibilities as vice-president operations management. Kathy, as she is commonly called, pioneered leadership for women in the automotive industry in her Texas city, earning respect among her male peers. Her keen extensive automotive knowledge made her unique being a woman in her profession. She participated in the auto industry as a public lecturer and radio automotive talk personality. She also served as a local technical college advisor, mentor, and speaker for young women engaging in the automotive industry. Kathy has preserved her religious life and femininity throughout her career.

Kathy serves as the Schoenstatt Mothers’ Federation Representative for the USA. She assists the Austin Movement pastoral team and Schoenstatt Fathers at the Bethlehem Cradle of Sanctity Shrine, Austin, Texas, as Sacraments Coordinator. Kathy volunteers at many of the shrines when possible. She is often found around the state of Texas, in Lamar, Confidentia Shrine, or Helotes, Cor Unum in Patre Shrine, where she is the treasurer. She experiences retirement in her little town of La Grange, Texas on a forty-three-acre ranch in the Texas hill country, observing nature.

Women present in my life: sources of love and inspiration

Many women taught me to experience love and faith, and they inspired me to embrace both my weaknesses and strengths. My mother was a petite woman who raised eight children. Being the third child, I experienced her motherly care for my seven siblings and generosity to others. Our family often gave to those less fortunate even when we had little to share. Our dinner table always had enough food for the unexpected guest. I was fortunate to have my maternal grandmother and maternal great grandmother in my life. Both loved to cook, meals were prepared and shared as a family affair. On Friday afternoons, my grandmothers would take me with them to church, to light candles and pray. I am very blessed to have experienced these joyful occurrences which influenced my life. Each of my relatives helped shape my future as a woman, to be attracted to and able to reciprocate love. They taught me appearance is not enough; it must come from inside the Soul to give love and receive it. God, through these wonderful women, molded me as this person. Every experience, youth, adulthood, marriage, work, and eventually motherhood helped shape me into a person that someone could give and receive love, prepare a future with, and create a loving family.  

The experience of God in my life

My experiences with God became more centered in my life as an adult, now married, working, and raising a young family. Together, my husband and I worked in our family-owned automotive business to provide for our four young children and bring them up in the Catholic faith, providing them a Catholic education and later in years seeing them graduate from universities. Everything seemed perfect in the early years. Challenges and sacrifices are not unusual for most; I not being any different experienced my share of placing contributions to the capital of grace. My life seemed almost perfect in 1990, that year I made my Covenant of love, the blessings in my life were many as a mother, and in our family business, until All Soul’s day, I was involved in a tragic automotive accident. God had put limitations on my almost perfect life! My faith in God was about to be tested. 

Mary’s company and support

Mary stayed faithful in our exchange of hearts. She sustained me through the ten years of rehabilitation after my very serious car accident. Spending hours in the home shrine, resting in her company. God was continuously there, and the fear of being abandoned had vanished. In His love for me, He provided knowledgeable doctors to oversee my care and accompany me. My blessings were many with a supportive husband, four beautiful daughters who shared their love in patience, tears, and even laughter. Thankfully, my family and I survived. It was a lengthy road, and God gave us faith with simple healing steps.

Today’s Challenge for us, women

Women of today are challenged with having to multi-task as a wife, mother, caretaker, employee or employer, even as educators who homeschool their children or care for the grandchildren because the parents need to work. Currently, we are each confronted with coronavirus and this is a huge challenge to add to any family life. Today I know in spite of the many challenges, it is important to invite women of all ages to share their personal stories and difficult moments, which have occurred. Helping them to understand finding time to pray and be open for God, who in their busy lives will support them through the difficult situations. Many today do not see Mary’s reflection in themselves because the difficulties that have occurred for them are too great. Covid-19 makes this task difficult since the social personal interaction one on one is removed. This is a universal challenge. The use of technology helps us to a great degree but somehow the warmth of a personal touch is missing.

Schoenstatt’s Mission for women

Women are familiar with challenges that come within a family, and to live our Schoenstatt mission they want to live faith in divine providence, often revealed in ways we do not expect. The need for prayer life and with a desire to fulfill the Schoenstatt mission helps women face challenges to succeed in this world by creating thoughtful attachments centered in God and people. Mary serves as an epitome of perfect love in womanhood. As her reflection, we strive to encounter our lives in the balance, serving selflessly and embracing one task at a time no matter how difficult in total surrender.

We desire to demonstrate respect for others by receiving and giving love to those we come in daily contact. We aim to live each day to be in harmony with one another, especially in our homes with family and coworkers. Our vocation as wives, mothers, single women, and widowed women is not different as we strive to carry ourselves radiating our womanly vision with grace and dignity. Blessed Mother has given us examples to emulate throughout her lifetime to help us overcome our inadequacies in our personal life. In this way, we want to make the world a home, a place to live in freedom and with Marian authentic joy.

The gift to be a woman at the service of other’s life: Suggestions in the spirit of the Covenant

Having had wonderful examples within my lifetime, my own work experience in the automotive business and now with grown daughters, I offer a few suggestions of what I want to change in this world. Society today is quick to judge women’s abilities and prejudices against working mothers and mothers who stay at home. Demoralizing sexist behaviors occur in work environments and homelife situations where there is a lack of shared responsibilities and respect, especially with working or single mothers. This causes women to lose self-dignity, self-esteem, self-respect and even loss of Christian values. Awareness and education made more available for men and women are needed in order to learn shared responsibilities, create positive thoughtful attitudes, and eliminate the lack of respect for the other. All these desires will be conceivable if we educate and set examples through our blameless behavior, attending mass as a family, and sharing in family meals together. Forming open minds, having conversations may become more tolerable, then beautiful relationships and happy families can be shaped with Christian values. Mary is our role model as a mother. Throughout her life, she radiated love in humanity. Today as women we want to let the world experience us as mothers, wives, single and widowed women who live joyfully and authentically in the Covenant of Love.